By Steve Elliott
Hashish growers in Lebanon's cannabis-rich Bekaa Valley say they are ready to join the fight against Islamic militant group ISIS.
The Lebanese army and the hash growers -- who formerly trained their weapons on each other -- now have a common enemy, because ISIS has been targeting marijuana crops in Syria, reports Rebecca Collard at PRI. The group recently posted a video online of ISIS militants destroying shoulder-tall stalks of cannabis near the city of Aleppo.
With the Bekaa Valley hashish factory of Ali Nasri Shamas in Bouday, Lebanon, just 30 minutes from the Syrian border, that's a big concern. Many area residents fear the wild-eyed jihadis, known for their practice of beheading opponents in online videos, are coming to the valley.
But Shamas said he's ready if they do. "This is for ISIS and [the Al-Qaeda-affiliated] Nusra Front," he said, showing off a two-foot long machete.
That's not the extent of his arsenal, in case you're wondering. He also has mounted machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, all originally bought to defend his crops from the Lebanese army -- but now ready to be turned against ISIS.
When ISIS militants attacked a border village between Bouday and the Syrian border back in October, hash farmers joined in to defend it. "When we heard they were attacking Brital, I joined the other men going to defend the village," said one man who asked to be called Abbas.